Thread Midge

Printable Version


The Thread Midge was created in a tool shed in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1996.  "I was a production tier at the time and, after staying up all night to complete a large order for Wendy Gunn of Lee's Ferry, I had an hour to wait for the mailman to pick up an order of Brassies, Pheasant Tails, and scads of chironomids.

Tired and not sure what I was going to tie next, I put a bead on a hook, with a little lead under the bead to hold it straight, applied some wire behind the bead and wrapped the thread on it.  Voila! I tied 12 copper heads with copper wire and 12 silver beads with silver wire and included them in Wendy's order.  I asked her to pass a few to her guides.

A couple days later I drove up to the Ferry to collect a check and to go fishing.  When I got to the fly shop I was approached by one of her guides, who asked if I had any more of those copper and silver flies.  I said no and asked why.  He said the fish were swimming across the river for those flies.  When Wendy heard this she ordered 200 of each and it went from there. After a few days, Wendy called and asked me to apply different colors of thread to the body.  I had no idea that this particular fly would become so productive and popular at such a rapid rate.  Now the Zebra Midge is a staple here at Lee's Ferry."...Ted (AKA Deadly Teddly) Wellington Marble Canyon, Arizona

Zebra Midge


Dai-Riki 125 or Tiemco 2488 (straight eye scud hook) Size #18
Black Thread
Silver 5/64 Tungsten (Use 1/16" Tungsten for Size #20 and smaller)
White Antron Yarn
Fine silver wire

Tying Instructions

View a video of tying a version of the thread midge.

  1. Mount the bead backward on the hook.  (The drill side would then be toward the eye.  This will allow the bead to slide over the front gills.)
  2. Place the hook in the vice and start the thread behind the eye in front of the bead.
  3. Tie in five or six strands of antron yarn about 1-1/2" in length.
  4. Whip finish, cut off and slide the bead over the yarn.
  5. Start the thread behind the bead and wind down a distance of about half of the hook shank
  6. Cut off the front gills to length.  The remainder of the yarn should be tied in behind the bead (will form back gill).
  7. Tie in a piece of fine silver wire.  Wrap both the wire and antron yarn (back gill) to the bend or slightly beyond.
  8. Bring the thread back to a point behind the bead.
  9. Wrap the wire to a point behind the bead (no more than 5-6 wraps).
  10. Tie off the wire and whip finish.

Candy Cane Variation


It should be noted that any thread midge with a wire ribbing and bead head can be called a zebra midge.  However, a true zebra midge is constructed of black thread with a silver wire.

Candy Cane is tied with white thread, red ribbing and black bead.  This midge seems to be most effective when fishing Montauk - especially during the summer and Fall months.

Van Patten Midge Variation

The Van Patten Midge is tied with Danville 6/0 Brown thread, red or black ribbing and black bead.  This thread midge has proven effective any where that it is fished.  The midge has taken fish in all the Ozark strams and in each of the Missouri Trout Parks.  Trout in the White River system also love this midge.

The Bennett Spring Special is a favorite of our fellow fly fishers in the Jeffreson City ....  Club members introduced this fly to Bob Temper and Al Bourisaw at a tying session that they had at one of their club meetings.  It has proven to live up to it's name - Bennett Springs Special.  It is tied with one thread of the six strand DMC 898, gold ribbing, and gold bead.

Wine Midge Variation

The Wine Midge has taken trout when no other thread midge seems to work.  It is tied using a black bead, wine colored thread and a black ribbing of black wire.

The Blood Midge is tied with red thread, gold ribbing and gold bead.

There are various other thread colors may be used to make a zebra midge.  Let your imagination go wild.

Fishing techniques

Midges should be fished at the depth of the fish. If no fish are visible, fish the midge with an indicator and a split shot or as the dropper fly off some type of heavy fly (Good choice is a weighted egg pattern with the midge tied off the bend). If fish are up in the water column (visible), use a small indicator and fish the midge at the level of the fish.